Richard’s Almanac: A talk with Barbara Silverstone

COURTESY PHOTO | Barbara Silverstone

COURTESY PHOTO | Barbara Silverstone

“I believe in turnover of leadership,” Barbara Silverstone told me in an interview last week.

Barbara, the Senior Citizen Foundation’s president, took over leadership of the benevolent organization just two years ago and plans to step down from the helm at the group’s April meeting. 

Barbara became involved with the foundation through former president Sy Weissman who left the Island for the Rochester area to be near his daughter.

The firm believer in term limits, Barbara is a social worker who holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a doctorate from Columbia.

“I worked for many years with kids, families and older adults,” she said, adding that she directed the Benjamin Rose Institute in Cleveland and there became seriously involved in serving older people.

She was later tapped to lead the Lighthouse and served the organization dedicated to those with vision problems as executive director. She  placed a special emphasis on older Lighthouse clients.

Barbara opened a consulting firm with a colleague in 2005 called SBW Partners.

When Barbara first came to the island in 1990 she and her husband lived in Hay Beach. After his death, she moved to a smaller one-level home in Silver Beach.

“And I can do my work here as easily as in the city,” explained the mother of two daughters and grandmother of five.

In 1976 she wrote a book entitled “You and Your Aging Parents” that was quite popular at the time.

“Now many people write about this very important subject,” Barbara said.

“The Foundation exists to augment the services of the Town for senior citizens,” Barbara said, adding that it determines needs and spends money on them. The organization raises funds through donations. The kitchen in the senior center, the emergency response system, the grant for the handicapped-accessible van and the grant to the Perlman music program are all examples of the results of foundation initiatives. The foundation also helps needy seniors with fuel bills.

“And grants leverage other grants,” Barbara explained.

“The next big project is the urgent care program,” she said, noting that she’s learned anecdotally and through the foundation survey that there’s “lots of interest.”

The foundation will set aside money for a task force on urgent care. Barbara urged the public to contact her with ideas at (631) 268-5723.

“We welcome ideas,” she said, adding that the foundation was born because of the ever increasing number of seniors here on the Island. “The ratio of people over 65 to people under 65 is the highest among communities to New York State.”